After a fake nude photo of Los Angeles Police Department Captain Lillian Carranza circulated throughout the department, LAPD Chief Michel Moore covered up the potential scandal to avoid “a viral interest, human or otherwise,” he testified on Thursday.
In a lawsuit filed against the department in January 2019 and which is now playing out in an L.A. courtroom, Carranza alleges that the image was passed along to “ridicule, embarrass or harass or smear” a woman in a position of power, the Los Angeles Times reports. Even after Carranza filed an official complaint in late 2018, asking Moore to notify the 13,000 members of the LAPD that the photo was fake, he declined.
Moore is not alone in his decision to hide the faux-photo’s existence and declining to send a department-wide notice about the fake. Former Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy, who oversaw the investigation as the head of the Professional Standards Bureau, testified that she agreed with Moore’s decision. McCarthy stated that it was unclear how many officers had seen the image and believed a statement might only cause the image to be circulated further, potentially tainting the investigation.
After learning about the photo from a coworker, Carranza, a 33-year veteran of the LAPD, was so humiliated that she suffered skyrocketing blood pressure and a depressive episode for which she was eventually hospitalized on Christmas Eve, Greg Smith, Carranza’s attorney, told jurors.
Carranza has said in court documents that she believes parts of her face were Photoshopped onto the nude image, the Times reports.
“I noted that the facial features of the woman in the picture bore a striking resemblance to me, although the photograph was not actually of me,” she said in a declaration. “In fact, I concluded that my own eye appears to have been Photoshopped into the picture.”
While this may be the most recent incident, it is not the first time Carranza has suffered discriminatory treatment in the department. In November 2013, a detective teaching a training class was caught on audio calling Carranza “a very cute little Hispanic lady” who had “been swapped around a bunch of times.” The department knew about the recording but failed to tell Carranza until the officer who made the recording notified her.
Carranza has stated that the photo made her feel “hurt, abandoned and devalued by my superiors… who took no steps to prevent known harm to me from occurring and who stood by and watched, encouraged or simply looked the other way as I was ridiculed, humiliated and degraded by fellow LAPD employees, despite my persistent pleas for help.”
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